County Department of Health and Sanitation, in partnership with USAid Nawiri Project, have launched Community Health System Action Research, worth Ksh60 million, focused on sustainably reducing the prevalence of persistent acute malnutrition across Turkana County.

This comes after two years of exhaustive research to identify the gaps that hinder sustainable reduction of acute malnutrition cases. The study focused on the community health system, particularly Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), which provides a direct link between community members and health facilities services for early detection and management and treatment.

Speaking at the launch of the implementation strategy, County Executive of Health Services and Sanitation Jane Ajele said that the research revealed six barriers that were identified.

Ajele emphasized that one of key challenges that faced the CHVs was lack of tools such as mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tapes, medicines and bicycles/ motorcycles for mobility.

She said that Turkana County is going to partner with Nawiri in using the research findings and other information on the CHS to design and test appropriate strategies to improve CHV motivation for effective implementation of integrated community case management/community-based management of acute malnutrition (ICCM /CMAM) and family-led MUAC.

This financial year, the county government has allocated Ksh29million to the project.

“The county government now has 1,700 health workers and before health was devolved, it only had 542 from National government. They are now more than 2393 CHVs serving across the county. This increase in number of workers has improved the implementation of health services in the county.

She further added that the county government was keen on implementing the Community Health Services Act, that would streamline the management and engagement of the CHVs. She invited the partners to identify gaps and support the health department in those area that require assistance.

County Executive of Agriculture, Pastoral Economy and Fisheries, Philip Ebei Aemun, lauded the county government and partner team for taking the multisectoral approach to seek a sustainable and long-term solution to address the nutrition and food security challenges in the county.

On her part, Soledad Rodgers, who is the team lead of Usaid Nawiri  said the project intends to strengthen the Community Health System (CHS) as the structural and functional space where community health is operationalized, to help protect nutrition gains.

She added that USAID Nawiri is committed to putting county governments and its citizens in the driver’s seat of their own journeys to self-reliance.